Some of the world’s biggest banks have been caught enabling trillions of dollars in money laundering to flourish under their watch, thousands of leaked government documents have revealed.
The FinCEN Files, named after the US Treasury’s anti-fraud agency, have been shared by Buzzfeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
They claim to show how global financial corruption has continued to grow for years, unchecked by government agencies and enabled by banks such as Citibank, HSBC, Barclays, JP Morgan and Standard Chartered among others.
What’s in the files?
The documents consist of thousands of suspicious activity reports (SARs), which are filed by banks to regulators to alert them of potentially criminal activity happening in their clients’ accounts.
The trove shared today encompasses more than 2,100 SARs sent to US authorities, spanning from 1999 to 2017.
Once filed, these notices absolve banks of responsibility to ensure the laundering does not continue. FinCEN passes the SARs onto law enforcement agencies, but does not require banks to shut down the activity.
Documents analysed by Buzzfeed News allegedly show that even after criminals were prosecuted or fined for financial misconduct, banks such as JP Morgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, and BNY Mellon continued to move money for those involved.
Meanwhile files checked by the BBC claim to show one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest friends may have used Barclays in London to launder money and dodge sanctions.
The banks involved have told reporters they cannot comment on on specific transactions mentioned in the files due to banking security laws, but that they met all the required legal and regulatory duties.
The top 10 banks represented in the FinCEN Files include:
Institution Number of SARs Amount flagged Deutsche Bank 982 $1.3 trillion BNY Mellon 325 $64bn Standard Chartered 232 $166bn JP Morgan 107 $514bn Barclays 104 $21bn HSBC 73 $4.4bn Bank of China 35 $1.3bn Bank of America 35 $384m Wells Fargo 21 $57m Citibank 18 $251m Data compiled by Buzzfeed News